Category Archives: Our Teachers

Aptis Exam Explained

 

Here at The Language Corner in La ELipa and García Noblejas we have been getting many requests for information about Aptis, the latest exam by The British Council. In both our English academies we offer preparation classes for both Aptis General and Aptis Advanced. But before you sign up to English classes in our academy, let’s explain exactly what the Aptis entails.

Firstly, it’s worth noting that the entire Aptis exam is done on a computer. It takes a total of 2hours and 32 minutes with all the skills being tested. It’s a scaled exam so there is no pass or fail mark but your results are given as a CEFR level for A0-C for the Aptis General and B1-C2 for the Aptis Advanced.

The Aptis, as well as being a cheaper and quicker alternative to the Cambridge exams such as The First Certificate and Advanced it is also becoming more widely recognised here in Spain. The Aptis General is valid if you are a student and need to demonstrate you have a B1 or B2 level and the Aptis Advanced is accepted by the Comunidad de Madrid as proof of linguistic competence for teachers.

As with most English language exams, Aptis is split into sections covering Reading, Writing, Speaking Listening and Grammar & Vocabulary. Let’s have a look at each section and how to best approach it.

Speaking

Part 1

The first part of the Speaking consists of 3 simple questions which you have 30 seconds to respond to.  They are usually related to your life, your hobbies, family or holidays. Each question will usually require you to use a certain tense so be mindful of that when you are answering.

As the test is done on a computer, a good way to practise this particular part is to record yourself answering some basic questions on your phone while using a timer. This will not only help you with time management but also with your pronunciation and intonation.

Being the first part of the test means the questions are simple but it doesn’t mean your answers have to be. I don’t mean that you should try to over-complicate things but it is a good idea to use these short questions to show off some vocabulary you know related to the topic. An example could be to learn an idiom that describes a person such as “He/she is a blast!” (the person is a lot of fun) This way you can use it to describe a friend, family member or someone you work with.

Here are some typical questions from Aptis:

  1. Please tell me about your family.
  2. Where did you go on your last holiday?
  3. What’s the weather like today?

Each answer should be between 4 and 6 sentences long. Speak clearly and at a pace you’re comfortable with and you should have no problem answering the questions from part 1.

Part 2

In the second part of the Speaking Test, you will be asked to describe a picture and then answer two further questions about it. This time you have 45 seconds to respond.

A typical example of this could be the picture on the left.

  1. Describe the picture.
  2. Do you often have to work in a team in work or university?
  3. Why is teamwork important?

 

 

 

To see example answers to these questions and tips on how to describe pictures, check out our previous entry on Aptis Speaking.

 

Part 3

In this part of the exam, you will be shown two pictures and asked to compare them. This is quite similar to the FCE or CAE and finding examples from those exams will help immensely. Again, there are 3 questions which each have a 45 second limit for answering.

  1. Compare the two pictures.
  2. Why might people choose each type of holiday?
  3. Which of these types of holidays are better for you?

Part 4

The last part of the Speaking test for Aptis, you are once again given a photo with three questions. This time, however, you’ll have one minute to prepare your ideas and two minutes to cover all three questions.

  1. Describe an old person you admire and why.
  2. How do you know them?
  3. What characteristics do they have that you like?

Check out our previous post for ideas and tips on how to answer these parts of the Aptis

Don’t forget you can prepare for the Aptis exam in Madrid in our English academies in Madrid in both La Elipa and Garcia Noblejas. All of our native teachers at our language academies are familiar with not only the Aptis but also all of the Cambridge exams. So if you are looking to prepare for the FCE in Madrid or the CAE in Madrid, make sure you stop by our English academies in Madrid in La Elipa and La Almudena. Looking forward to meeting you!

Aptis Speaking Parts 3 & 4

Today at The language corner we’re going to look at the second part of the Aptis Speaking test, with tips and sample answers to give you an idea of what is needed in this relatively new exam by The British Council.  Of course, here in our English academies, you can prepare for the Aptis as well as The Cambridge exams with our native teachers.

Part 3

In this part of the exam, you will be shown two pictures and asked to compare them. This is quite similar to the FCE or CAE and finding examples from those exams will help immensely. Again, there are 3 questions which each have a 45 second limit for answering.

 

  1. Compare the two pictures. (45sec)
  2. Why might people choose each type of holiday?  (45sec)
  3. Which of these types of holidays are better for you?  (45sec)

As we saw in our previous post when describing photos we usually use modals of deduction to say what we suppose is happening in the pictures. Let’s have a go at answering these ones 🙂

  1. In the first picture on the left, a couple can be seen relaxing in deck chairs at the beach. I imagine they are a couple as they are holding hands and the woman seems to be gazing at her partner. There is a bag hanging off one deckchair and a hat hanging off the other. It looks idyllic if I’m honest.  In the second picture, we can see a group, with backpacks on hiking through the mountains. They appear to be following a trail and are properly prepared for the terrain. It reminds me of going trekking with my friends in the mountains outside my city.
  2. I reckon people choose beach holidays to get away from the hustle bustle of the city and to completely switch off. Not only do they get to relax on what seems like a paradise island but they also don’t have to worry about the stresses of their daily life. On the other hand, this type of trip can seem utterly boring to some people which is why they might prefer to do something more active. They also want to escape the fast-paced way of things in the city by getting fresh air in a pristine landscape but obviously lying on the beach for days would just bore them to tears.
  3. Both types of holiday have their benefits. Relaxing on a beautiful beach for a week might do somebody who has a high-stress job or day to day life the world of good as they can just switch off and forget about everything for the time being. However, the hiking holiday is obviously more active and in that way, it’s physically better for you. I suppose it all depends on whether you want to do something active or would benefit just as much from simply taking a break from your daily routine.

Part 4

The last part of the Speaking test for Aptis, you are once again given a photo with three questions. This time, however, you’ll have one minute to prepare your ideas and two minutes to cover all three questions.

 

  1. Tell me about the first thing you bought online.
  2. How did you feel about the purchasing?
  3. Would you recommend online shopping?

For this question, since you have a minute to prepare it’s a good idea to jot down the points you want to mention without writing full sentences. Be careful not to describe the photo given as this is not the task in this question. The questions are more abstract (e.g a feeling). Make sure you answer all three questions and stay on topic. Doing otherwise will lose you valuable points. You are free to glance at your notes while you speak so it’s really important to practise brainstorming and making the most of this.

Here is an example of how you can brainstorm some ideas in one minute. Notice that as well as answering the questions I’ve also included short structures to include in my answer. This final part of the Aptis speaking exam is aimed at the higher levels so it’s important to incorporate advanced structures into your answer. Think about inversions (not only but also, only if/when), passives, conditionals etc. It’s also good to use any related vocabulary you can think of. Having said that, we also recommend you stick to what you know in the exam. Practise these structures before the exam so you are confident using them. Don’t try to wing it in the exam by throwing in structures you half know and are likely to get wrong. Accuracy is of vital importance in any speaking exam and the Aptis is no different.

Let’s have a go at answering this one:

If I recall correctly, the first thing I bought online was a necklace from eBay. It was being auctioned on the site and I thought it was really beautiful. I remember feeling excited by the bidding process. I would place a bid and wait to see if someone outbid me for the item. In the end, mine was the highest bid and I won the auction. I also remember feeling quite nervous however because of the payment method. Only by giving the website my credit card details could I proceed. I was also worried it wouldn’t arrive even after paying for it. I decided I’d have to take the chance and thankfully my necklace arrived shortly after.

I would definitely recommend shopping online nowadays. There are so many shops and you can buy virtually anything delivered to your doorstep. It’s really handy for people who work a lot or simply don’t enjoy going shopping on the high street, especially around the holidays or sales when bricks and mortar shops are packed. Not only is shopping online faster and more efficient but it’s also cheaper than the high street stores a lot of the time.

As you can see, I used the notes from the spider diagram to shape my answer but also added more information as I thought of it. I hope this helps. Don’t forget you can prepare for the Aptis exam in Madrid in our English academies in Madrid in both La Elipa and Garcia Noblejas. All of our native teachers at our language academies are familiar with not only the Aptis but also all of the Cambridge exams. So if you are looking to prepare for the FCE in Madrid or the CAE in Madrid, make sure you stop by our English academies in Madrid in La Elipa and La Almudena. Looking forward to meeting you!

 

madrid academy language

Best Vegan Food in Madrid

Below is collection of our favourite plant-based & vegetarian places only 20minutes from The Language Corner academy in La Elipa. Our teachers , ´profesores nativos´ have also listed their favourite thing or what they most enjoy in each place. As we are based near metro La Elipa, and our sister language academy based in La Almudena, we can get to most of these locations on Line 2 direct to Sol and then change!

What do you think? Do you have others to add?

La Colectiva Café
4.5  (120) · Coffee Shop
Calle Francisco de Rojas, 9
Breakfast · Cosy · Casual

Visit for the spacious laptop area and working space downstairs. The selection of cakes is absolutely divine, and vegan! If you still have fussy friends, cows milk is available but their kitchen is vegan.

La Encomienda
4.5
  (287) · Vegan

Calle Encomienda, 19
Cosy · Casual · Vegetarian options

Visit for their delicious cheesecakes. The daily menu isn´t their best offering but allows a price point to try some of the different dishes. Our favourite is the seitan.

Restaurante Vegetariano Artemisa Sol – Gran Vía
4.2  (395) · Vegetarian
Calle de las Tres Cruces, 4
Reservations required · Outdoor seating · Cosy
Visit for their desert! The custard cinnamon tart is heavenly.

Veggie Room
4.8  (131) · Natural Foods Store
Calle de San Vicente Ferrer, 19
This isn´t a restaurant but had to make the list as it is known on the scene as the best store for veggie and vegan items such as meat cuts, ice creams and egg replacement.

Llanten Veggie Bar
4.6  (183) · Vegan
Calle del Cardenal Cisneros, 40
Cosy · Casual · Vegetarian options
Their menus can be quite cost effective if you want a nice rich flavourful meal. Their dishes are mostly mushroom based, and the starters have our vote

Bunny’s Deli
4.8  (25) · Vegan
3.8 km · Calle San Gregorio, 17
Breakfast · Cosy · Casual
A bit pricer, this is more of a takeout stop offering superb quality dishes with a menu that changes daily.

Pizzi & Dixie
4.4  (167) · Restaurant
Calle de San Vicente Ferrer, 16
Cosy · Casual · Good for kids
Visit for the ´Dixie Classic´. Our absolute favourite on the list, this all-vegan pizza place is a must for non-vegans too! They make their own coconut cheese in-house and even have a charcoal pizza – known to be a good hangover cure! Try their Dixie Classic on your first visit.

Present Perfect

 

Listen to the verses of Queen’s classic song We Are the Champions. What sort of actions are they referring to?

They all refer to actions and states that occurred at an indefinite time in the past. To describe these concepts we use the Present Perfect tense.

We construct this tense by using the present simple form of the auxiliary verb to have together with the past participle form of the verb that describes our action.

I + [to have] + [to pay] ===> I have paid my dues, time after time

I + [to have] + [to do] ===> I have done my sentence

But [Ì’ve] committed no crime

And bad mistakes: I’ve made a few.

I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face

But I’ve come through

Remember that you cannot use the Present Perfect if you want to be specific about when this action happened – we have the Past Simple for that:

“Have you had lunch yet?” Present Perfect – we’re talking about an unspecified time in the past.

“Yes, I ate a sandwich at 2 o’clock” Past Simple – we’re talking about the exact time that the sandwich was eaten.

 

We also use the Present Perfect to refer to states that began in the past, and continue to be true today:

“I have lived in Madrid for three years”.

“I haven’t slept for days… I’m exhausted!”

The song We Are The Champions is reproduced for educational purposes only, and is the property of Queen and Sony/ATV

Meet Phil

Profesores_Nativos_Inglés_Phil

 

Name: Phil

Place of Birth: York, England

How long have you been working at the Language Corner? Since March 2013

Favourite thing about Madrid: The relaxed atmosphere. After living in London for 6 years this is the perfect way to chill out and enjoy the pace of life a bit more.

Tell us a bit about yourself: I’ve been an English teacher and administrator for over 8 years, both in England and Spain. In my spare time I go exploring Madrid on foot, which is a great way to get to know the city… slowly! 

What is your favourite movie? Forrest Gump

Top tip for learning English: Spend as much time as possible listening to English. At first it might seem difficult and frustrating as you don’t understand a lot, but eventually you get used to hearing different sounds, intonations and stresses, and you find you’re not trying to listen to every word. For this I recommend listening to as much music as possible, watching online TV and specific content for improving your level of listening.

Level of Spanish: Good enough to deal with the public in an English school and sing at Rayo Vallecano games!

Tell me something interesting about yourself: I like to DJ so if you’re interested in some DJ classes (in English) then you know where to ask!

Meet Andy

IMG_4021

 

Name: Andy

Where are you from: Ireland

Tell us a bit about yourself: I’m 33, I’ve been living in Madrid for 3 years and I love it!

How long have you been working at the Language Corner? Since July 2012

What do you like most about teaching? I love the fact that I can make a living while helping people with something important like learning English. Also it’s a lot of fun!

What hobbies or talents do you have: I like reading, movies, video games, hiking and football

What kind of music do you like: Lots of different types

What is your favourite movie? Life Is Beautiful

What book are you reading right now? Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres

Where is your favourite place in Madrid? Retiro of course! I also love the terrace of my flat

Tell me something interesting about yourself: I studied History, Politics and Sociology at University and later did a Masters in Development Studies

Top tip for learning English: Find a TV series that you enjoy and watch it in English. And of course join a language school; I can highly recommend The Language Corner!

Meet RACHEL

Meet Rachel

 

Name: Rachel

Where are you from? Sheffield, England

Tell us a bit about yourself: I have a degree in Modern Languages and I am currently learning Italian. I love Spain and have lived in Madrid for over 3 years. I am also trying to learn how to cook!

How long have you been working at The Language Corner? 3 years in La Elipa

What do you like most about teaching? It is very rewarding to help students improve their English, and you meet lots of interesting people.

What kind of music do you like? Chart music

What is your favourite movie? Slumdog Millionaire

What book are you reading? The Pillars of the Earth

Where is your favourite place in Madrid: Retiro Park

Top tip for learning English: Study a bit (or a lot!) every day, consistency is important.

Meet SIAN

sianName: Sian

Where does your name come from? It is a Welsh form of Jane.

Where are you from: Sidcup, Kent

What did you study? Psychology. I am currently studying a Master to be a school counsellor. I also have a CELTA.

How long have you been working at the Language Corner? 1 year in La Elipa and 4 months in La Almudena.

What do you like most about teaching? Seeing people’s progress, meeting new people, and working with children.

What hobbies or talents do you have: I love reading (mostly thrillers), going to the cinema and drawing.

What kind of music do you like: I quite like Indie Folk Music (I really like Mumford and Sons) and pretty much anything that isn’t heavy metal or Reggaeton. I also really like Flamenco.

What book are you reading right now? The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Where is your favorite place in Madrid? Templo Debod and Malasaña

Tell me something interesting about yourself: I have an identical twin sister.

If you could be any animal, which animal would you be, and why? A bird because it would be awesome to be able to fly.

BEST TIP FOR LEARNING ENGLISH: Don’t limit yourself to classroom time. Try to expose yourself to as much English as possible (books, magazines, news, films, music…) and ask your teacher for homework.

The Language Corner has only Native Teachers!

english flags

If you are looking for a native English teacher in Madrid. The Language Corner is for you! We have two schools located in the Cuidad Lineal neighborhood. One of our English academies is located near metro La Elipa and the other academy near metro La Almudena. Both are located on line 2 and easily connect to the city center. Our language schools are staffed with only native speakers. Our English teachers are from many different places including: England, Ireland, and United States.

At the Language Corner we can help you achieve your English Language goals. You will be exposed to native English, with diverse accents. What do you prefer the British accent or the American accent? Come visit a class to find out!

(The Language Corner also has native French and native German teachers)